Thomasina Miers - Mexico

THOMASINA MIERS: Chef, food writer, restaurateur

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Earthy, inspiring and globally recognised as an aficionado of Mexican cuisine, UK chef and serial restaurateur Thomasina Miers is passionate about bringing the flavours of Mexico’s markets to your plate.

Thomasina is Executive Chef of Wahaca Restaurants, which have taken London by storm with their fresh dishes inspired by the food markets of Mexico, and who use free-range meat and sustainable fish and recycle everything down to their food waste.

Tommi has also presented various cookery shows on television and radio, including A Cook’s Tour of Spain, Wild Gourmets, Mexican Food Made Simple and The Kitchen Cabinet. She is the author of five books, her latest book being Wahaca – Mexican Food at Home (Hodder & Stoughton). Her next delicious book focuses on chillies and will be published May 2014.

“Each state, each region [of Mexico] has its own specialties; discovering them and falling in love with the different dishes is part of the joy of travelling through Mexico.”

‘Must eat’ dishes for first-time travellers to Mexico?

There are so many amazing things to eat, but it really depends on where you are as the food is regional and changes depending on what state or city you are in. Mexico City is famous for its ‘tacos al pastor’: mouth-watering skewers of pork marinated in spices and served in tacos with chargrilled pineapple, lime and salsa verde. The ‘carnitas’ from Veracruz are delicious but so are the ‘panuchos’ from the Yucatan. Each state, each region has its own specialties; discovering them and falling in love with the different dishes is part of the joy of travelling through Mexico.

5 favourite Mexican dishes?

I adore picadillo, the real Mexican chilli. It’s a succulent combination of pork, beef, nuts and dried fruit. I especially love it when it’s stuffed inside a smoked chilli from Oaxaca called the pasilla and deep-fried (it has to be tasted to be believed).

A simple quesadilla made with freshly ground and toasted corn and stuffed with the string cheese from Oaxaca and some fresh epazote is one of the purest eating experiences out there, especially when paired with a searingly hot salsa made with the chile de agua chilli.

A steaming cup of hot chocolate made with water, not milk, freshly roasted and ground cacao, ground almonds and cinnamon is a delicious way to start the day for a really bright, light pick-me-up.

A dark, rich, anise-studded mole from Xico in Veracruz

A bowl of soup made from a carefully tended stock, either a sopa de tortilla from Mexico City, a sopa de guias from Oaxaca or a pozole from Michoacan. Soups in Mexico are lovingly prepared with bundles of fresh herbs and vegetables and their flavours are wonderful.

Favourite produce market in Mexico?

I will always love the Central de Abastos markets in Oaxaca. Its diversity is extraordinary and I have visited it with chefs from Oaxaca who still find new ingredients despite having lived in the region for 40 years or more.

I couldn’t live without chillies, vanilla, chocolate, avocadoes and tomatoes, all ingredients indigenous to Mexico.

5 Mexican ingredients you couldn't live without?

Chillies, vanilla, chocolate, avocadoes and tomatoes - all ingredients indigenous to Mexico.

Top 5 Mexican street food experiences?

Eating quesadillas in a small village outside Oaxaca

Eating the yellow mole empanadas outside the 20 November market in Oaxaca

Eating tacos al pastor in Mexico City

The pozole in the market at Coyacan 

The churros in Coyacan too, stuffed with cajeta.

What inspired the menu at your Wahaca restaurants in the UK?

When we created Wahaca we were inspired by Mexico’s markets with all their fresh produce, their incredible stalls cooking delicious street food in front of us and also the way everyone seemed to work together at the market making it all work. We also loved the fact that this delicious food, so lovingly prepared by passionate foodies, was for everyone, from every walk of life.  People seemed to appreciate and enjoy good food, no matter what their budgets.

What do you need to cook authentic Mexican food at home?

There is very little need for fancy equipment, although a pestle and mortar and upright food blender do come in handy, as does a tortilla press if you want to make your own. I always have some fresh lime lying around, a stash of dried chillies in the cupboard for when I am feeling adventurous and some onions and garlic for making salsas and herbs. Other than that it is down to the recipe you want to make.